May 1, 2017 / 10:13 PM / 3 years ago

Fire in Georgia wildlife refuge could take months to fight: U.S. officials

The West Mims fire burns in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia, U.S. April 25, 2017. Fish and Wildlife Service/Michael Lusk/Handout via REUTERS

(Reuters) - A wildfire that has burned more than 100,000 acres (40,469 hectares) at the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in southern Georgia could take until November before it is put out, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said on Monday.

The fire has burned about one-fourth of the wildlife refuge, and the blaze is considered only eight-percent contained, said Mark Davis, spokesman for the service.

“November is the worst-case scenario,” said Davis. “The firefighters’ plan is to contain the fire as best they can, hoping that nature will cooperate with some rainfall.”

Helicopters, bulldozers and 500 firefighters are involved in fighting the blaze, Davis said.

No homes have been burned or threatened, but smoke has reached some cities including Waycross, Georgia, Davis said.

While much of the wildlife refuge is marshland and swamp, parts of it are prairie and wooded land. The refuge is home to black bears, alligators and sandhill cranes. Davis said wildlife knows to avoid the flames.

Six years ago, a wildfire burned more than 300,000 acres (12,1406 hectares)of the 407,000-acre (16,4707-hectare)refuge, Davis said.

Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Sandra Maler

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